Amari Cooper among Tide players who intend to apply for draft

Alabama juniors Landon Collins, Amari Cooper and T.J. Yeldon officially announced their intentions to apply for entry into the 2015 NFL Draft at a school-sponsored news conference Friday.

Collins (6-foot, 222 pounds), Cooper (6-1, 210) and Yeldon (6-2, 221) were joined at the news conference by Tide coach Nick Saban.

"We're very supportive of what these guys decide to do," said Saban, who also said each of the players made a "good business decision."

Saban pointed out that the trio had been on teams that won 36 games, two SEC titles and a national championship (in 2012).

There has been speculation that defensive lineman Jarran Reed and linebacker Reggie Ragland also are considering bypassing their senior seasons; Saban was asked if any other Tide underclassmen were going to apply for early draft entry and he answered, "We'll see how it goes." The deadline for underclassmen to apply for early entry is Jan. 15.

Collins, Cooper and Yeldon were members of the Tide's 2012 recruiting class, which was considered the best in the nation. Collins was a consensus national top-10 recruit, Yeldon a top-30 guy and Cooper a top-50 recruit.

In October, an NFL scout told NFL Media's Albert Breer that Collins is a better prospect than former Alabama safeties Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Mark Barron, who both went in the first round (Clinton-Dix in 2014 and Barron in '12).

Cooper, who played at the same high school (Miami Northwestern) as Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, led the nation with 124 receptions and was second in receiving yards (1,727) and TD receptions (16) in 2014. He won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver. NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah is impressed with Cooper's route-running abilities. Cooper "sets up defenders, (then) explodes in/out of break point," Jeremiah wrote in a tweet earlier this week.

Despite some late-season injuries, the physical Yeldon led the Tide with 932 rushing yards during the 2014 campaign. At least one NFL scout has said he thinks Yeldon could be better than former teammate Eddie Lacy, who now stars for the Green Bay Packers.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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